May is mental health month in the U.S, and it’s a moment to explore the importance of your mental health. It is easy to get lost in the routine of our everyday lives; caring for loved ones, going to work/school, finishing household chores, etc. The actions of our daily lives overshadow and engulf the importance of caring for your mental health. It feels like there isn’t the time or ability to exercise, journal, take time off, or do all the “good for you.” Caring for your mental health can start slowly, match your schedule, and there is no right way.
What is Mental Health?
In all the discussion of mental health, what does it even mean? The World Health Organization defines “mental health” as a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life…” In other words, mental health is the foundation of your daily self; it encompasses your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It determines how you may handle stress, relates to others, and make decisions.
How do you know if your mental health needs some more immediate attention? Some signs include increased irritability, feelings of sadness, difficulty concentrating, thoughts of suicide, difficulty completing day-to-day functions (eating, showering, going to work), and isolation. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms or more, mental health services may be needed to address the concerns.
Four Short Tips for Making Mental Health a Priority on a Busy Day
1. Take Small Moments
For those with a busy workday taking small moments may include taking a 5-minute walk on your break, singing or listening to your favorite song on your commute to work, taking your lunch break, dancing while cleaning, and watching a funny video. Take one minute to close your eyes and take a deep breath.
Most importantly, there is always time to go to the bathroom. So take a short moment to meet your basic needs (drink some water, eat a snack, stand up, take necessary medications).
2. Choose one thing to start your morning.
City life makes it difficult sometimes to engage in a morning routine, particularly for those who have children, early workdays, and long commutes. Choosing one activity or item to start your morning can assist in starting your day. This may include choosing a soft song for an alarm sound, a morning stretch, drinking and finishing your cup of coffee or tea before driving, washing your face, petting your pets, etc.
Morning routines are often listed as long activities, but choosing one action to complete your day can help start your day and give you a sense of success early in the morning.
3. Take the easy wins
Find activities that you can commit to completing. Sometimes searching for tips for mental health, you will see items that include exercise for 30 minutes, journal for 15 minutes, etc. and we might not have time to complete those activities. Taking the easy wins just means completing any small activity.
Such as making your bed, eating your lunch, walking your pets, taking a break, finishing an item on your to-list, making your breakfast, finishing your show, contacting a friend, put your shoes away. The little things that take up your day are everyday wins, and they deserve to be celebrated!
4. Ask for help
Asking for help can be jarring and scary. We are often raised to do things independently, but asking for help can reduce your overall stress and worry. Asking for help can be as simple as asking a friend to talk, asking your partner to complete a house task, or stating no to adding another work project. Learning to recognize when your cup is too full is important for your mental health.
Making your mental health a priority can be difficult. It calls for you to put yourself first, carve time out and focus on your needs and sometimes we don’t have the time. The reality is that your mental health is the basis and foundation for your everyday life; it dictates your decisions, activities, and overall mood. So giving yourself 5 minutes, taking those small wins, and finding the things that are important to you are small ways to prioritize your mental health.